Material culture

I grew up in Skawina, a small industrial town near Cracow (Poland), very similar to a model communist town, Nowa Huta, an industrial district of Cracow. Nowadays you still can - as it is written on a tourist brochure "experience the wonders of this one-of-a-kind place, including its monumental Central Square, wide avenues, residential units, steelwork headquarters, a Soviet tank and an impressive Solidarity church." When I was a student I had moved out from Skawina and well... never came back to live there.

When I was a child, in late 70s and early 80s, the U.S. (or West) seemed like a paradise. It is interesting I had no such expectations towards the USSR as a child. For example I remember being on a summer camp, in 1984 or so, and one girl came to visit someone for some days. She was of Polish origin but lived somewhere in Canada. We (I mean the kids from the group at the camp) called her "a princess". I still remember her clothes, so colorful, made of delicate fabric. She had two pair of corduroys jeans, one violet, one pink. And also she was very active and athletic. She could do side straddle hops etc. Truly a princess for the kids from the Soviet bloc!

I didn't know I would recall so many aspects of material culture. CLOTHES For example it was very common to wear clothes which were self-made by knitting, sewing, etc. During the late 80s, it was very fashionable to wear special thing on legs during wintertime. It was made of yarn, put on tights or trousers and reaching to the knees. It was called "getry" in Polish, probably, if I remember correctly.

ELECTRONIC DEVICES During the 80s or early 90s teenagers in Poland dreamed of walkmans. It was an object of divisions also. Visible ones. If someone was lucky enough to have a relative "in the West", then could owe his/her walkman and every friend would know it. I still remember one boy, who wanted to make an impression on others, and was wearing only headphones, his hands hidden in the pockets.  He had no walkman inside the pockets but wanted others to think he had been listening to music on his own walkman.